Red beans and rice, crawfish, beignets, and king cake. It’s no secret that New Orleans is home to some of the most delicious and unique cuisine in the world. But there’s one New Orleans classic in particular that has been satisfying natives and visitors alike for almost a century: the po-boy.
Created during the streetcar strike of 1929, the po-boy sandwich was first crafted by the Martin brothers. Originally dubbed “poor boys” after men who were striking, the name was eventually shortened to “Po-Boy” due to the accents of those who originally spoke it.
The sandwich usually consists of some form of meat or fried seafood on French bread and is typically topped (or “dressed” as locals call it) with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise.
The city’s love of the po-boy has led to its very own celebration. The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival is an annual fall festival that features over 50 variations of the city staple from local vendors across the city. This year's festival takes place November 19, 2023.
If you can’t make the fest, make sure to check out some of these iconic po-boy spots during your next visit.
Family owned and operated for over a century, and the winner of the Travel Channel’s Food War’s competition for best shrimp po-boy, Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar is an Uptown gem. While every item on their menu is delicious, locals will recommend their fried oyster, fried shrimp, or roast beef po-boy. Can’t decide between them? Mix it up with a surf and turf po-boy or double down on the seafood with a half & half.
Simply put, the name says it all. At Killer Poboys there’s no such thing as a classic. All of their po-boys are originals like the Smoked Salmon, Housemade Chorizo, Glazed Pork Belly, BBQ Chicken Confit, and Coriander Seared Shrimp, just to name a few. Dive into their unique menu and po-boy like a pro. You can find them in two locations - at a smaller pop-up window in the back of Erin Rose Bar, or their larger brick-and-mortar a few blocks over on Dauphine St.
Runner up to Domilise’s in the Food War’s competition’s best shrimp po-boy, Parkway has been making sandwiches since 1911. While they are known for their shrimp po-boy, the restaurant offers 25 variations of the po-boy spanning from roast beef to an amazing alligator sausage. Want to taste the streetcar strikers had? Try their 1929 Potato Po-Boy made the same way the Martin Brothers made theirs - with French fries smothered in gravy. Or opt for a lighter option with one of the vegetarian po-boys. Plus, the po-boy shop has had some pretty famous clientele, from President Barack Obama to a pretty sizeable takeout order placed by Beyoncé when she was in town on tour. Make sure you finish your meal with their ice cream sandwich po-boy for a special treat.
As Guy Fieri said when he visited during an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: Mahony’s goes full throttle. Mahony’s is the perfect stop for those looking to get something to eat before strolling the historic French Quarter. One of their most exceptional and unique po-boys is the Shrimp Remi, a fried shrimp po-boy topped with remoulade sauce and fried green tomatoes. Pair any po-boy with their award-winning shoestring onion rings and you’ve got a classic NOLA lunch.
This dive bar is known for old school, delicious po-boys, especially shrimp and roast beef. Venture off the beaten path in the Irish Channel and feel like a local.
Consistently a winner at the Oak Street Po-Boy festival, Red Fish Grill puts an interesting spin on the classic oyster po-boy with their BBQ Oyster Po-Boy. After flash frying the oysters, they’re tossed in Crystal BBQ Sauce and dressed with a homemade blue cheese dressing. A seven-year winner of “Best Seafood Po-Boy” and “Best Overall Po-Boy” 2017- Po-Boy Festival, Red Fish Grill is a must on your po-boy list.
Located by the Fairgrounds (the site of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival), Liuzza’s has consistently been dubbed one of New Orleans’ best spots to eat by critics and locals alike. Those who frequent the restaurant will argue that it is the best spot in the city to get a po-boy. Those visiting for the first time must try their BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy, a sandwich guaranteed to leave you feeling both full and pleased.
This neighborhood establishment has been serving this beloved sandwich for over 40 years right on the heart of Magazine Street. The small building remains a local favorite.
Melba’s is serving up classic New Orleans staples with an emphasis on the po-boys 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Try their Voodoo Philly or smoked sausage po-boy paired with one of their famous New Orleans daiquiris.
With over 40 po-boys to choose from, Johnny’s Po-Boys is a French Quarter favorite. Have a po-boy for every meal of the day as you sift through their massive menu with highlights such as the egg, soft-shell crab, alligator sausage and country-fried steak po-boys. Make sure to head over early as they do stop serving at 3:30 p.m. daily.
The BEST place to go for your late-night cravings? Verti Marte! Don't let its unassuming, corner store exterior fool you - they've got some of the best po-boys in the city. And the best part is you can enjoy them at literally any time of day or night. Verti is a favorite among locals and visitors who stumble upon it after an evening on the town. One bite and you'll see why.